June 26th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Amazon is probably the greatest source of competition for most retailers these days, whether they are pure-play e-commerce outfits, have physical store locations, or are attempting to provide a combination of both. Whatever the business model, it’s getting increasingly difficult for companies to compete with the everything store’s ever-expanding breadth of inventory, its reputation for customer service and experience, and ability to meet high shipment standards.  

But competing with the e-commerce giant is not impossible, suggests research conducted by Qubit, a provider of marketing personalization technology, and audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The software vendor analyzed more than two billion customers journeys and 120 million purchases to determine the correlation between specific optimization techniques and their resulting impacts on revenue. It found that taking the right steps to personliaze web experiences could result in an up to six percent revenue boost.

“There’s a lot of room for innovation in this space, and areas where you can outrun Amazon,” Jay McCarthy, vice president of product marketing at Qubit, says. But to give customers a compelling enough reason to shop with them, retailers need to be highly considerate with how they choose to allocate their resources to improve digital experiences. “Companies shouldn’t try to copy Amazon, because they’ll always have the resources to outrun you,” he says. Instead, they should consider some of the “tried and true techniques,” that will likely yield the highest payoffs.

According to Qubit’s data, three of the top techniques are:

  • Scarcity–highlighting items that are low in stock, a practice which resulted in a mean revenue increase of 2.9%;
  • Social proof–leveraging buying behavior from other users to highlight popular products, which resulted in a mean revenue increase of 2.3%, and;
  • Urgency–applying deadlines to promotions to urge buyers to complete an action (e.g. a purchase) before the offer expires (resulted in a mean revenue increase of 1.5%).

And some of the most commonly used tactics are less effective than companies might think, the report finds. Notable among these are “cosmetic” adjustments, including page redesigns, navigation switches, and button changes. These activities resulted in much lower payoff, and have even caused companies to lose money.

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